Alas, I don't have a photo for you today, and I know how boring it is to read long posts without photos. I promise to get you a pic of my sweet Hallowe'en costume, asap, to make up for it, okay? Okay.
I have actually reached the one-quarter mark on making little tiny hexagons, which is great. I feel like I'm making some real progress on it. That leaves me with... let's see... just under 2000 to go. Hmm... I think I felt better before I'd calculated that.
I also sat down to start the handquilting on the Wiz quilt. I decided to do it freehand, which is a new experience for me. With the other quilts I've done, I've always followed some element of the design with the quilting (i.e. either outlining hexagons for the One Block Wonder quilts, or following around the berries for the whole cloth quilt.) With this one, I thought I would try some sort of freehand design, something that suggests storms and tornadoes. I have learned a few things from this: someone who doesn't consider herself an artist perhaps shouldn't freehand quilt an image without sketching it on first, somehow. Or at least not do it upside down. Also, I've learned that straight lines are a lot easier to freehand than smooth curves are. Luckily, I have learned long ago not to be a perfectionist.
I've been planning some upcoming projects that will use some skills I haven't practiced much. I figured that one good way to practice them would be to make some little mini quilts. Here are a couple that will help me with some machine-applique. So far these are only fused, not yet machine stitched -- everything will be much more defined when they're finished.
In the meantime, my HLM was out of town for a week, and just got home the other night... Talk about a guy who knows his way to my heart, he brought me home a bunch of gourmet peanut butter. Yum. There's Sumatra Cinnamon Raisin, European Cafe Mocha, and (believe it or not) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. There will be some great midnight snacks around here, believe me.
My days off-work were once again very productive, but I don't have much to show you for it. I finished my Hallowe'en costume and I think it looks awesome, if I do say so myself. There's one more element that I may or may not add to it. It would make the costume better, but it would mean another trip to the fabric store, and lots more fabric... I still have a few days to decide.
I also made another handful of hexagons -- they are going fairly quickly for now, but once I start another project (and believe me, they're lining up to be next) they'll probably fall into the background again. That's sort of how I intended this project to be: something to putter away on whenever I feel like it. If I pushed myself to finish it in a hurry, I might go crazy with the magnitude, and besides, I like the portability of it at this stage. I can grab some paper hexagons and fabric squares and take them with me. It's a good way to people-watch in the coffee house, while nursing a mochaccino.
I also basted the layers of the Wiz together this afternoon, so once I have room to set up my quilting frame, I will start quilting it.
The only thing I have to show for my days off is this beautiful apple pie. That's crust from scratch, people, with McIntosh apples and demerara sugar inside. Yum. I had some for breakfast this morning. Mmm, nothing like having some healthy fruit for breakfast...
So last night I took a little break from making hexagons and made myself a little fabric box (from this tutorial) to store them in. I figured that I need something to hold them all until I sew them together, so it might as well be something pretty. I'm not sure it will hold them all, but it's pretty roomy (about eight inches square and eleven high) and the initial 360 fit in the bottom quite nicely. Over the next several months, I hope to fill it to the brim.
I also made a Pumpkin Orange loaf this morning. It's my favourite thing to make from leftover pumpkin, and I had lots left over from my Thanksgiving pie. It's very moist and orangey, largely because there is an entire orange in there, rind and all. All those fragrant volatile oils from the peel make it smell (and taste) just divine.
Well, the day after that last post, I got the Wiz quilt top put together. There were a few adjustments I had to make in the final moments -- the pattern has a couple of problems that I won't go into. In the end, it all worked out and looks good. Only took a couple of days, since it's much easier than it looks at first glance. My HLM seems happy with it. (That's him behind the quilt top, holding it up. Doesn't he look happy?) Once I get some batting, I will get this one on the frame and start quilting it. After that's finished, maybe I'll finally get around to quilting the Fresh Squeezed quilt.
I also made a pillowcase the other day, and the pants for my Hallowe'en costume... I spent some time trying to get little projects out of the way and to reorganize my craft space (read: kitchen table and most of the space around it.) I was finding that the disorganization of my many projects was frustrating me to the point that I didn't want to go over there for craftiness. I had to sort through the chaos and discard some things, and organize others. What I really need is a space of my own, a room to set up a table and ironing board with ample shelves and a design wall, etc etc. But then, what crafter doesn't dream of that?
Because I was avoiding my craft space, I had to find some way to be productive and crafty while on my sofa. Normally this would be knitting, but in the last few days I really found my groove with making these: They are little paper hexagons with fabric sewn onto them. It is a process known as English Paper Piecing, where interlocking shapes are made of paper and used as templates. Basically you just fold a seam allowance around the edge and tack the fabric in place with a simple basting stitch. Then you sew the pieces to each other by hand, one by one, and eventually remove the papers. Of course when I saw this technique, I didn't dream of doing something small, like a wall hanging. Immediately I had to make a full sized quilt. And while I didn't intend to choose hexagons quite this small (about an inch and a half across) somehow I didn't have the sense to choose something larger. I have made 360 of them so far (not all in the last couple of days, mind you -- this has been on my back burner for a while already.) That's like a tenth of what I will ultimately need.
You might say that I'm crazy. Perhaps it's all a plan: in conversation with my HLM the other day, I realized that life in a Mental Hospital is really ideal for me -- the free meals, time to watch tv and do puzzles, and all the crafting I want. Where do I find the men in white coats??
Things here are moving along at breakneck speed now... I finished the quilting on the little whole-cloth quilt, and added a border to it. When I chose that border fabric, I didn't really think about what the polka dots would do -- thankfully they behaved and lined up pretty nicely around the perimeter of the blankie. I also tried a rounded corner for the first time, and I really like it. You can even see some of the backing fabric in the photo -- a second berry fabric from the same fabric line.
Since I set that aside, I cut out a bunch of pieces for a Wizard of Oz quilt (using fabric made by a company called Quilting Treasures, if you care to find some.) The pattern is pretty simple, and free, if you search out there in the interwebs, but I actually bought it as a kit off ebay, since I'm lazy and didn't want to find a shop that still had yardage of all the fabrics I needed. What can I say, my HLM is a big fan of the film, and I aim to please. It isn't going to be large, but certainly big enough for a lap quilt. It will keep him warm and make him smile, two of my best jobs.
My creative urge is really strong lately -- I'm starting to think of work as a nuisance, since it takes me away from the things I am inspired to be doing. If only I could afford to do those things without the money I get from that nuisance, hm? Fortunately sewing gives quick gratification when I only have a few hours. In fact, those fabrics pictured above are almost completely sewn into a quilt top already. There has been a lack of knitting lately, partly because I have been so inspired to quilt, and partly, I think, because it gives slower progress than sewing does. In any case, I have been racking up projects that haven't even made it into my sidebar before they're finished. And I like that.
For those not familiar with the Yarn Harlot (aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)... she is brilliant and funny (and Canadian, which explains the first two, ha ha) and takes a lot of pictures during her travels. Some are photos of places, with her sock-in-progress cleverly in the foreground. Others are photos of people, invariably holding her sock-in-progress, and bearing looks somewhere along the spectrum of confusion to enjoyment.
So while I don't have anything new to say about my own misguided adventures, I had to tell you that you have to go to the Yarn Harlot's blog and read this (funny and great) and then subsequently this (ingenious and subversive.) You might even help someone.
Once again, a week has gone by without a post... and once again, I've been busy, but haven't had much to show for it. Having finished my entrelac blankie, I immediately picked up another one I've been meaning to get around to. This one is a whole-cloth quilt, which basically means that you use one whole piece of fabric for the top, rather than little pieces joined together to make a design. Some of them are all white, with the quilting making the design (see here) while others use a patterned fabric and just quilt around parts of the pattern (here is one using so-called Cheater cloth, which is designed to look like patchwork fabric.) For mine, I chose a berry fabric and am quilting around some of the motifs. I'm about three-quarters done already.
I also made my first little amigurumi toy, as a gift for someone special. It is a ninja, from the book Creepy Cute Crochet. He is hiding amongst the DVDs, here, ready to leap out at a moment's notice. I have a bad habit of liking adorable little things and making them, knowing that little knickknacks just gather dust around here. Perhaps if I make them to give away, I can get my fix without my apartment getting any more crowded!
Lastly, I made a trip to the fabric store yesterday, to get fabric for a really sweet Hallowe'en costume. I am pretty much designing it from photo references, so hopefully I can pull it off. More on that as I make progress...
Living life somewhere in the grey area between Liz Lemon and Nancy Botwin. I live with my beloved Heterosexual Life Mate (HLM), no kids, two beautiful feline ladies, and what I can only assume are self-replenishing stacks of fabric and yarn.
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